Plant and Animal Reproduction

Plant and Animal Reproduction

While all organisms reproduce, not all organisms reproduce the same way. Explore the similar and different ways that plants and animals pass on their genes.


3 - 12


Biology, Genetics

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All plants and animals make new versions of themselves. This is called reproduction. The new plants or animals are called offspring.

Types of Reproduction

There are two types of reproduction. Asexual reproduction is one type. It happens with a single parent. It makes an offspring that has the same genetic material. This is more common in plants.

Sexual reproduction is the other type. It happens between a male and female. A male animal has sperm. A male plant has pollen. A female plant or animal has an egg. The sperm or pollen joins with an egg. This makes a new offspring.

Asexual Reproduction

There are many ways plants can reproduce asexually. Some plants make spores. They grow on a plant. Then they break off and grow into new plants.

Humans can make plants reproduce asexually. They use a method called grafting. They attach the top part of a plant to the lower part of another plant. This combines two plants into one.

Sexual Reproduction and Fertilization

When plants and animals reproduce sexually, they share parts of themselves. This makes an offspring. It is called fertilization.

With plants, a male shares pollen with a female's egg. Plants can't move. So an insect, such as a bee, helps. The bee takes grains of pollen from the male part of a flower to the female part of a flower. The pollen reaches the female plant's egg. That's where fertilization happens.

Animals don't need insects for fertilization. They can move around by themselves. They can get sperm to an egg without help.

Embryos, Development, and Birth

Once an egg is fertilized, it is called an embryo. A plant embryo grows inside a seed. An animal embryo can grow inside an egg, like with birds. An animal embryo can also grow inside the female, like with humans.

Plants and animals start life differently. A plant begins life by sprouting from a seed. The seed begins to grow once it is in the ground. Animals are born out of a female's uterus. They can also hatch from an egg.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Roza Kavak
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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